You’ve probably heard about the hidden executive job market, but do you really know what it is, why it exists, and how to take advantage of it?
No one knows for sure how many executive jobs are hidden (or never advertised), but it’s estimated to be at least 80%.
Why aren’t more executive jobs posted online?
One reason could be that the company has a merger or acquisition pending, keeping them from announcing openings.
One of the main reasons employers don’t advertise many of their executive jobs has to do with social recruiting. Sourcing and screening candidates online through social networks (especially LinkedIn) is more cost effective. It’s less time-consuming than posting openings online and reviewing thousands of resumes, many of which are submitted by unqualified candidates.
Executive recruiters and employers find good-fit candidates by searching LinkedIn, for the most part, and other social networks, using relevant keywords.
That means you need to build your personal brand and online presence over multiple channels, using the right keywords, in the right places, so they’ll find you online. Once they find you, you want them to see plenty of good information about you to support your candidacy.
So, what is this mystical world of the hidden executive job market?
According to Executive Talent Agent Debra Feldman, hidden executive jobs include these 4 scenarios:
1. The budget for a position has been allocated . . .
But for a variety of reasons (timing, prioritization, inconvenience, internal communications, etc.,) the announcement has not been distributed. You have to know someone who is aware of this situation in order to access this unadvertised job.
2. A position where the incumbent has plans to leave, (a promotion, relocation, personal leave, etc.) . . .
But until their replacement is found, that person/that role is not going to be released. In such instances, there is never a vacancy. The position passes from the incumbent to their successor without any gap in coverage.
3. A position known only to the hiring decision maker and their trusted inner circle
It’s a position that will be created when the team is reorganized or a merger or acquisition or other stealth process is completed. It’s a matter of when not if new talent is going to be brought in.
4. The most prized of the hidden executive jobs
A position created for a specific individual that did not exist until an individual was available. Job responsibilities may be shifted to accommodate a new team member or a new role created designed to maximize an individual’s skills and abilities.
As Feldman notes, the only way to land one of these jobs is by networking your way in through a recommendation and becoming known, liked and trusted by hiring authorities.
The perfect job for you may never be posted anywhere! It may only exist in the hidden executive job market.
Many executive job seekers tell me that they haven’t been in a job search for several years. In the past, they were in demand by executive recruiters and easily slid from one job to the next. They may not have needed to do much networking.
But they seem to forget how well networking worked for them. They’ve now come to believe that, in order to embrace online job search strategies, they have to spend most of their job search time responding to postings on job boards. They don’t realize that perhaps only 5-10% of them will land jobs there.
They’re kidding themselves into thinking they’re hard at work looking for a job, when the majority of their efforts consist of perusing job board postings and hitting the resume “send” button.
How do you find out about hidden executive jobs?
Probably no surprise . . . through focused networking.
That means starting first with a good list of companies, say 15-20, that are a mutual good-fit. Then you’ll position yourself as a good fit for them in your career collaterals (resume, bio, LinkedIn profile, etc.). And then you’ll network your way towards hiring decision makers at each one, so that you can circumvent the gatekeepers (Human Resources) and, hopefully, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
A key piece of information many executive job seekers don’t know . . .
Getting referrals from employees, or even one employee (at pretty much any professional level), at your target companies gets you an “in” at that company.
- Employees usually know about openings at their companies that may never be advertised.
- Employers like to hire people they know. Getting a referral or introduction from an employee makes you a known, recommended commodity . . . and more highly valued as a candidate.
- Many companies offer employees monetary incentives to bring in candidates to fill openings.
Look to connect with people at your target companies, nurture those relationships through “give to get” networking and, in time, you should be able to ask for introductions to hiring decision makers at those companies.
How do you find employees at your target companies?
LinkedIn is a great place to start.
Look for the LinkedIn (company) Page for each one. Many companies will have one.
On those pages, you’ll find employees who have LinkedIn profiles, along with lots of other company information for your due diligence and market intelligence research.
If you already know some of these employees, reach out to them to connect on LinkedIn.
If you don’t know them, here are some tips on how to connect with them.
Of course, you’ll also need to connect with executive recruiters in your niche. You can also find them on LinkedIn, through keyword searches.
And here is a whole host of ways and places to network your way into the hidden job market.